For the first time ever in UFC history, two undefeated warriors will battle for the gold.
The newly crowned UFC Light Heavyweight champion—“Sugar” Rashad Evans (18-0-1) will defend his title against Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (14-0) in the main event at UFC 98.
Both fighters are coming off impressive victories and are looking to cement their status as the world’s best fighter at 205 lbs.
Who has the advantage going into this fight? Well, you’re about to find out.
This is a fight between two of the most technical and elusive fighters in the Light Heavyweight division. They are both known for their counter striking ability, but they both have completely different styles.
Evans is more of a technical boxer with explosive power in both his hands and his feet. He is a patient fighter with good head movements and very fast hands. In his most recent performances he has knocked out both Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin.
However, he has never fought a striker the caliber of Lyoto Machida. Machida is by far the most technical striker in MMA. He presents a very unusual style—and stance—coming from a shotokan karate background, and he has used this style to frustrate and pick apart all 14 of his opponents.
Machida rarely ever receives any damage in his fights. He fights very intelligently and forces his opponents to fight his fight. There has never been a time where we have seen Machida in any amount of danger. I don’t even think I can remember a time where he has even lost a round.
Machida clearly has the striking advantage and will pick Evans apart on the feet.
Lyoto Machida has the striking advantage, 10-8
Rashad Evans has been wrestling since high school and was a two-time All-State wrestler at Niagara-Wheatfield High School.
Evans went on to wrestle for Niagara County Community college and he quickly captured the NJCAA championship. He was then picked up by Michigan State and assembled an overall record of 48-34.
He was also one of only four men to have ever defeated Greg Jones. For those who don’t know, Greg Jones is considered to be the best collegiate wrestler of all time.
Rashad’s wrestling credentials have carried over well for him into MMA. He has been effective 60 percent of the time on his takedowns, where as the average fighter is only accurate 45 percent. Lately Rashad has evolved into more of a stand up fighter, but the superb wrestling skills are still there.
Lyoto Machida’s wrestling skills are extremely underrated. His takedown defense is incredible, Tito Ortiz couldn’t even take him down and Tito is (or was at the time) considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the division. In fact, Lyoto actually took Tito down during that fight, so anyone who thinks Machida can’t wrestle is completely out of his or her mind.
On paper Rashad does have the wrestling advantage, but I don’t think Machida will have much of an issue with it.
Rashad Evans has the wrestling advantage, 10-9
Machida only has two submission victories on his record but don’t let that fool you. He is a legit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under the Noguiera brothers.
Machida is very dangerous on the ground; just ask Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou whom Machida submitted at UFC 79 with an arm triangle choke.
Rashad Evans is not much of a Jiu-Jitsu guy offensively, but he does have very good submission defense. However Machida clearly has the advantage in the Jiu-Jitsu department.
Lyoto Machida has the jiu-jitsu advantage, 10-8
Both fighters have good cardio; however, we have seen Rashad gas out in the past. His cardio did not look very good in his fights with Brad Imes, Sam Hoger, Stephen Bonnar, and Michael Bisping.
Rashad has improved his conditioning drastically since then, but is he ready to go five rounds with someone like Machida?
As this fight progresses, Lyoto Machida will have the advantage.
Lyoto Machida has the cardio advantage, 10-8
As you can see I think Machida has the advantage almost everywhere. I’m not taking anything away from Rashad, I think he’s one of the best Light Heavyweights in the world, but Lyoto Machida is the pound-for-pound king of the 205-pound division and he will prove it in this fight.
Machida will pick Rashad apart for the majority of the fight and eventually drop him in the fourth round to claim the UFC Light Heavyweight championship.
Enter The Dragon!
Lyoto Machida by Fourth Round (T)KO
Mitch Ciccarelli is a staff writer for The Lights Out Show, this article was originally posted there. The Lights Out Show is a daily podcast hosted by Chris Fries and The JDH. It's a show for MMA fans by MMA fans! thelightsoutshow.com